A personal look back on the development of the University of Kiel

by J. L.

As a child, I loved to sneak through the old university. When I was four or five years old, the university was my territory. My father worked as the master electrician and was responsible for all the electrical facilities. At the time, you couldn’t get lost in the university, so my parents allowed me to walk around there. Usually they knew where I was, because I loved to sit in front of the “Bachsaal” to listen to the sound of the music students practicing. Even today there are concerts every Wednesday at noon, which are free and open to everyone. As children, we didn’t dare to leave the terrain of the university, because the little porter’s lodge, where today the archway of the Campus Suite is located, was manned – so we could not get out. Everybody knew each other, and everyone took care of each other.

Back then, the campus was only an area bounded by the Westring, Olshausenstrasse and the Max-Eyth-Straße, as well as a few buildings behind it. The Victor Hensen house was also a part of campus, which was a station for animal breeding, I can remember well that wolves were bred back then, because they regularly howled during their feeding time.

Today there is a parking place on the breeding grounds. Friends of mine lived in the Viktor-Hensen house.

We often sneaked through the building and looked at the laboratory rats in their cages.

To me, the campus seemed huge, but for those 6,000 students who studied there in 1960, it was certainly quite small.

The “Old University”

My home was at the Johanna-Mestorf-Strasse 7. Our apartment was on the upper floor, which was great, because probably no one had a larger balcony than we did at that time.

Radioteleskop an der Uni-Kiel


We were able to run around on the rooftops and had a view of the whole university. From there it was possible to see the tram that had its final destination at where now the “Audimax” is now located. Back then, there was only the “Old University” – and it still amazes me how the building has consistently grown.

The present day Wilhelm-Seelig-Platz was our playground. Behind it, there was the former ELAC (“Electroacoustic”) ground, which was inaccessible to us due to a high fence. Today, the Science Park is located there.

The radio telescope was the border for me because there were only the allotments and a railway line behind there, which today, has been converted to a bicycle route – the “bike route 10”. Even the Botanical Garden did not exist on the university campus back then. It was first constructed in 1975. Previously, the Botanical Garden was on the Düsternbrooker Weg. Even today, “the old one” is a popular destination. It is still carefully maintained and offers an attractive viewpoint for overlooking Kiel’s Förde (the fjord) with its pavilion.

When I was six years old my father decided to leave the university because he was never spared from work, not even on the weekend. Something was constantly broken. When it was raining, the transformer station was full of water, or the automatic system for room darkening in the lecture halls was broken. But it was not my fault… even though I liked messing around with it.

Development since the 1970’s

In the 1970’s the university was extended. The sports facilities, faculty blocks and the new Physics Centre emerged. It was an exciting time for me as a teenager, because I often used to hang around there and collect the empty beer bottles on the construction sites. This was a nice complement to my pocket money.

Nowadays, the swimming hall of the University of Kiel is open to the public at certain times and offers courses such as “aqua jogging”. However, access for people under the age of 18 is not allowed from Monday to Friday. It is incomprehensible to me that children are not allowed in the hall during this time, because sports educators, who after all would like to work with children in the future, are also training at the same place. In the Sports Centre prevention courses, such as Pilates, yoga or spinal yoga are also offered.

In the mid 1970’s, 10,000 people had studied at the university. In the academic year of 2015/2016 there were 25,277 students according to official information. Many students deliberately choose the University of Kiel for their studies, because although Kiel is a small town, it has a lot to offer. As a long-time resident and “Kieler” myself, of course I have to mention our beaches.

CAU – not only for students

CAU - Botanischer Garten

CAU – Botanischer Garten

Unfortunately it is not well known that the CAU has not only interesting offers for students. I somehow imagine a magic wall is keeping every non-student from having a look into campus. Personally, I highly prefer spending my time there. Walks in the botanical garden, visits of the mineralogical museum and also various events are always a reason to visit the university. Furthermore, guests are also allowed to eat at the canteen, if they are not disturbed by the sometimes-squeezing crowd. Also, the library of the university is open to the public. Every person with their first residence in Schleswig-Holstein, can request a user card there.

The following is some more advice on what you should definitely have a look at:

The New Botanical Garden

It is opened daily at 9am and also on weekends and holidays. The closing times are dependent on the season. The greenhouses are open daily from 9:30am, but not on weekends. In irregular intervals tours and special offers are made. You should have a look at the website: www.uni-kiel.de/nickol/botgar.html. The entrance to the garden is free.

Geological and Mineralogical Museum:

Located at Ludewig-Meyn-Str. 10-12, the museum is opened from Monday through Thursday, 8:30am-4pm and Fridays from 8:30am-2:00pm. The entrance is free. School classes have to inform the museum their visit. I highly recommend you visit. It glitters and sparkles, the exhibition is an eyecatcher, especially for children.


Different events are offered in the Audimax. This includes lectures of all kind, concerts and also a cinematic film guide. Because the guide is changing constantly, you should have a look at their website www.wasgehtinkiel.de – and then click on the sub-item CAU Audimax. It’s worth the effort because the movie prices are quite affordable. For 6 Euro you can watch a Star Wars movie for example.